For most legal issues under employment law, the plaintiff must first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before they can file a private lawsuit against their employer. The EEOC will review the employee’s claim and may then intervene to help bring about a remedy for the plaintiff’s losses. EEOC remedies can include:
- Investigation of the employer to uncover illegal practices
- Requiring the employer to provide compensation to the employee (such as lost wages or reinstatement to their previous job position)
- Mandatory changes in company policies
- Participation in mediation
Thus, EEOC mediation is one of many different remedies available in an employment law claim. Mediation involves the appointment of a neutral, third-party representative to help facilitate discussion and resolution between the employer and employee.
The mediator helps the conflicting parties to reach a mutual agreement as to how the violations should be resolved. This type of informal dispute resolution process can often save both parties time and resources. EEOC mediation is usually reserved for violations involving discrimination laws and other specific issues like gender or race violations.
EEOC mediation is usually not mandatory for the parties. Often times it is suggested along with other measures, such as an investigation by the agency. Mediation is generally only recommended for situations where the employer and the employee can still maintain productive discourse with one another.
In fact, if one of the parties is unwilling or unable to cooperate in communicating their issues, EEOC mediation may not be the best route for resolving the conflict. Instead, a more formal investigation may be needed, especially for conflicts involving widespread violations in the workplace.
You can expect an EEOC mediation session to last about 3-4 hours each meeting. Sometimes only one meeting is needed for the parties to resolve their differences, but more complex situations may require more meetings. The EEOC usually doesn’t charge either party for participating in the mediation process.
You should also come prepared to have a full and complete discussion with the other party regarding the conflict. You’ll want to prepare any important statements or questions you may have regarding the encounter.
Finally, you should understand that mediation is less about having remedies prescribed to you by an authority, and more about the parties reaching a mutual agreement. The mediator is there mostly to encourage, facilitate, and moderate the discussion.
In nearly all cases it’s best to hire a lawyer to be with you during the EEOC mediation meeting(s). Your employment attorney can help guide you through the process, and can spot any legal issues that might become evident during the meetings. Also, if the EEOC remedies are not sufficient, your lawyer can represent you in a private civil lawsuit.